I had just turned 17. A precocious teenager, I loved comic books very much and wanted to defend them as popular culture and literature in my English 102 class. This was the same year that Star Wars came out. Popular culture, science fiction and fantasy, etc, was still a fringe interest. I spent a lot of time and money at Golden Age Collectibles in the Pike Place Market, where my mother sold her jewelry and I help with the business after school.

Illustration for cover of term paper by Norah Hogoboom 1978

Here is a copy of my paper “Superman and Spiderman: Two Superheros. I want to note that this was typed on a Royal Typewriter that was a serious antique in even 1977. I remember the frustration if I had to completely restart a page if I had too many typos. (And if you look at the linked PDF, I had a lot of typos in the final version!) I think I was fairly talented at hand editing with White Out and a Rapidograph pen. I had to look up all my references in annual catalogs of journal publications and card catlogs. It took forever to have copies sent to our college library (yes, I started college at sixteen…)

Enjoy!

In the early 1980’s, interest in Japan was on the upswing.The mini series “Shogun” had aired in 1980 and the Vapors “Turning Japanese” also was a hit in the same year. I was a linguistics major and after years of studing German and French, I needed a year of a non-Indoeuropean language for my major. I studied Japanese under the legendary Tamako Niwa. Dr. Niwa wanted me to study for a few more years then attend a prestigious university, but I decided I really wanted to be an exchange student to learn the language and selected a small foreign language university just outside Osaka, Kansai Gaidai in 1983.

My one extravagance, thanks in part to my penny-pinching grandmother, was a Pentax ME Super 35mm camera I bought in a little shop in Osaka after much heated negotiation in Japanese. It is so easy to take a zillion pictures with a digital camera nowadays, but developing film was dear back then, so I don’t have as many pictures as I would have liked and as a complete novice, many weren’t all that brilliant. However, it is a record of a time 30 years ago and perhaps interesting in itself

Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.The jumble of bicycles where everyone seems to squeeze their bike on top of each other. I had a neat bike with a white basket and a bow. Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.We took our shoes off in the building where we had our classes. The cleaning ladies would come and organized them neatly while we were in class.
Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.Outside the cafeteria. I lived on curry rice which cost only ¥100. Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.Inside the cafeteria. Steve Merrylees is in the lower right.
Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.Another view of the school and all the bicycles crammed into a small space. Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.I remember how intrigued we were that you could buy beer from a vending machine.
Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.The old “Seminar House” which was the dorm for those not staying with families. Kansai Gaidai, Hirakata-shi, Japan. 1983. Photo by Norah Hogoboom.The building where the foreign students attended class.